Hana Cha | Luxury Real Estate, Innovation with HANA.

Hana Cha, a household name in the luxury real estate world of the US, is recognized for her expertise and innovation in new development marketing and sales. 

Since 2008, Hana has spearheaded over $4 billion worth of new development projects across the nation. An industry-leading strategist, Hana’s unwavering determination and relentless work ethic quickly positioned her amongst the industry’s most accomplished real estate sales and marketing executives. Her extensive expertise across all aspects of pre-development planning, market positioning, sales strategies, and operational efficiency has established her as an indispensable ally, a strategist, and an executor on countless projects throughout her career.

Her company, HANA., founded on collective expertise and collaboration, embodies a personalized approach, recognizing that one size does not fit all. The organization navigates business challenges by employing a project- and client-specific approach, aiming to achieve exceptional value and measurable results. With an unmatched track record in rebranding, relaunching, and successfully selling stagnant projects, HANA. adapts to market-specific conditions throughout all phases of a project’s marketing and sales program in order to develop strategic approaches meticulously crafted to resolve the issues faced by the target demographic. The company’s ability to conceptualize, design, and execute unique marketing strategies, encompassing both conventional and unconventional scenarios, showcases its flexibility in devising customized solutions for each project, consistently delivering optimal results. HANA. has established itself as an invaluable asset and a trusted partner to top-tier real estate developers and investors, contributing its expertise to nearly 40 prominent urban, mixed-use, residential and resort-residential properties to date. The company’s portfolio of clients continues to expand steadily, reflecting its reputation for excellence in the industry.

Let’s begin by giving our readers a little more background about your personal journey.

My family immigrated to the US when I was three years old; born in South Korea, I’m the oldest of 2 daughters. Who I am today is deeply rooted in the values, morals, and work ethic instilled by my cultural background and upbringing.

My parents, like many Asian immigrants, were blue-collar, small-business owners. Like most Asian parents in pursuit of the American Dream, my parents wanted my sister and I to become a doctor and a lawyer. While I did well in school growing up, I never loved it. Academics was never the path for me, I just wanted to go out into the real world and make money. 

I got my first job when I was 15. I wanted to understand how people made money and figured I should start sooner than later. I was the black sheep in the family because I didn’t want to pursue my parent’s predetermined path to success. I wanted to write my own destiny and got a lot of heat for going against their wishes. My sister, on the other hand, stayed in school for as long as she could. She pursued the academic route and it worked for her. She’s now an MD, PhD; a proper scientist working in biotech.

Photography by Will Edwards

“Where we build together, we can thrive together.” Hana Cha

What brought you into the real estate industry specifically?

I grew up in Seattle and moved to Los Angeles after University to work at Sony Pictures. It was my first job out of college – that’s what interested me at that time. Real estate was really just a happenstance. It was like being at the right place at the right time. 

I was at Sony for a few years with a communications degree, searching for my place in entertainment journalism. The short answer, I moved to L.A. to become the next Ryan Seacrest. However, as I got to know the industry more, I realized that was not the path of fulfillment for me. I learned early on that I needed to be in an environment or an industry where I could be surrounded by more happy and positive people. I wasn’t exactly surrounded by too many of those then.

So by late 2007, I was on the hunt for fresh opportunities and had some friends pull strings to set me up with different people in different industries. I just wanted more exposure to different industries and businesses. Then, in 2008, I went to meet someone in a high-rise building in midtown, and as luck would have it, I ended up chatting with the developer that owned that particular building. That’s how I got my foot in the door to real estate.

You have over sixteen years in the industry, what advice would you give to your younger self, looking back at everything you’ve created so far?

If I were talking to my younger self today, I would tell her: “Fear is not a bad thing. Don’t forget your value, you bring a lot to the table, experience or not. Your grit, resiliency, and resourcefulness is unparalleled. Don’t ever question your self-worth and your abilities to do the things you want to do. Don’t let fear of the unknown, fear of sucking, or fear of failure hold you back. Dream big, reach high, and know that if you fall, you can get right back up again.”

Can you tell me more about what you do in real estate?

I am essentially a development consultant. I work with real estate developers who are building mixed-use residential spaces, condo hotels, or buildings and communities with a residential component in them and provide advisory services through the various stages of planning, marketing, and sales.

My bread and butter is a combination of marketing and sales efforts: market positioning, marketing and sales strategies, and sales operations. Recently I’ve taken on a more hands-on approach to early pre-development stages, focusing on design development and collaborating closely with architects, interior designers, and the other stakeholders. This encompasses the crucial phases preceding the construction phases, including spatial reviews, service and programming, and overseeing everything that’s involved in building a community or a high-rise tower.

Let’s continue more about your company, HANA. Tell us what is your mission and your brand ethos – what you want people to think about what you’ve created.

I spent nearly a decade at The Agency, touching a lot of different roles and responsibilities to build up their development arm. I also started Compass Development Marketing West Coast in 2016, where I was their Managing Director for 2 years. Then, in 2020, I started my company, HANA.: spelled H-A-N-A, not Hannah. 

My mission and brand ethos is built on a foundation of collective expertise and strategic collaboration – I believe that the power of collective experiences far exceeds that of any one individual. We work hand-in-hand with our developer clients, focusing on the end-users of each project in order to create meaningful real estate projects and impactful services that optimize functionality for the buyers, maximize profitability for the developers, and support overall livability for the neighborhood.

HANA. has three core business pillars. The first pillar, Advisory Studio by HANA., is my consulting arm – offering real estate developers advisory services through the various stages of development research and planning, marketing, sales, and operations. It’s majorly about putting together an actionable game plan without forgetting about the big picture goals. Many developers have grand ideas to build these amazing communities and high-rise towers; but a lot of times, they don’t think about the end-user and how these real people will actually live within the four walls. As a result, there’s often a disconnect between what gets built and what’s needed for that particular market and those specific buyers.

I started my consulting business because I wanted to bridge that gap by getting developers to consider and understand the preferences of the consumer from the beginning. My goals are focused on the target buyer’s wants and needs with each project’s location, market trends and changes, and filling the missing void in these neighborhoods to design a building and create a community that the end-user really wants to be in, and be a part of. I believe in meaningful compromises where the financial mechanics can harmonize with design and planning experts to build homes and communities for people and families to thrive in. 

The second pillar of my company, The Assembly by HANA., is my masterclass-inspired, online program designed for real estate agents who want to expand their business model with new development services. New development is a very niche segment of real estate, and not a lot of traditional Realtors are active in the space. I think, at least as of now, opportunities have been scarce because real estate agents haven’t had much information, resources, or access to get their feet wet in this space. 

My purpose for my platform and creating this program is to share all hard-learned lessons and 15 years of experience with real estate agents in a meaningful way. It’s the only form of education or guidance into development marketing available on the market today. The goal is to empower professionals to actively participate in this segment of the industry; engaging with developers establishes long-term relationships, and getting involved on new development projects builds a long-term pipeline. It also opens up many different doors to grow and expand any real estate agent’s service offering and business portfolio, and it’s not an obvious path that many agents understand or see.

The last pillar of HANA. is the Collective Marketplace by HANA., which is a digital marketplace for real estate partners and vendors, whether you’re a photographer, designer, escrow company, mortgage broker, architect, interior designer, and so on. There are so many pieces to this industry, and especially from where I stand, we’re constantly vetting new partners, marketing agencies, and design firms, etc. to figure out who’s the best in their space. The Collective Marketplace is a one-stop shop of industry experts with a successful track record, who’ve already been vetted through mutually shared networks.

For real estate agents or anyone else just breaking into this industry, if you’re not already a part of an established network of connections, it can feel overwhelming to find the right partners to build and grow your business. The Marketplace is that established network for those who need a headstart with identifying the right players. 

What would you say is how you find that inner balance and inner peace in the middle of chaos?

I would say, it’s my alone time that helps me; I really value the time I give to me, myself, and just I. For me, inner balance and inner peace comes from sitting in quiet stillness and letting all the crazy thoughts and voices in my head chill out. Whether it’s been a rough day or a great one, no matter how crazy things get, I find comfort in bringing my attention to the present moment and letting myself sit in the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that need to run through me. I remind myself that nothing is of permanence – no moment, no thing, no feeling, good or bad, nothing is permanent so it just needs to run its course – and as long as I have my health and my family, all is good in this neighborhood. I guess that’s kind of my self-love practice to stay within some realm of inner peace and equilibrium.

Do you currently have any growth plans for your business?

Growth and expansion for my business has always been an important focus for me, but it has to be meaningful and intentional. Bigger isn’t always better, and I’ve learned that the hard way a few times. I always want to grow my team and my book of business, but saying “no” has been a major growth factor, both personally and professionally. 

In the last 16 months, I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time creating and refining the curriculum for The Assembly, which was launched just late last year. Timing was great for upscaling while the market was going through a rough patch. But what I’m most excited about for this year is to get back out in the field with old and new clients, and start fixing broken pieces to get projects up and moving again. I’m excited about a few deals to jump in as a part of the restructuring and repositioning team on some of these stalled projects across the country.

When it comes to your current daily routine, how do you typically prepare for a successful day? What does that look like for you?

Probably not what most people would think is a successful way to set up the daily routine. (laughs) For me, I went through this whole phase for almost eight years where I was very disciplined about my schedule. I was up at 5 to do yoga and get through a list of daily to-do’s before I went to work. I think I felt like it was the only way to get everything done.

In the last couple of years, I’ve become much more comfortable with who I am and how I naturally operate. Sometimes that means I get up early, but most of the time it doesn’t. For me, setting my day up for success is really spending the first 30 minutes of my day without technology in a non-urgent, panic-free mode, so I can just wake up to spend the first moments of my waking hour just breathing and appreciate being alive. Then I get outside for some fresh air with my dog. I’m fortunate to live where I live so I get to walk around the marina and smell the ocean. 

My one strict rule is that I don’t check emails until 9am. It’s like setting that precedent for myself in the mornings and staying off my phone for as long as possible is always helpful. I used to check emails first thing, and I’d have a flurry of issues in panic-driven emails and it caused me so much anxiety – and that’s not the way I like to start my days. 

I have a few time blocks throughout my day so I can brainstorm, write, and move. I typically work out late in the afternoon and everything else is scheduled on a need-be basis day-by-day. I have a few recurring weekly meetings, but other than that, I am most productive when there’s fluidity and freedom in my schedule. My mornings are the only part of my day that I won’t compromise or give-up.

And when it comes to manifesting, I don’t know if you believe in the word manifesting or if you call it visualizing success or what do you have that you really want to look forward to creating in your brand, in your business?

I absolutely believe in manifestation and co-creating with the universe. Co-creation and manifestation is simply the act of doing as if it’s already happening or achieved. The brain doesn’t know the difference between thoughts and reality, so if you act as if something is already happening or has happened already, your brain believes the same. Stay focused and grounded in a specific intention and move through life as if it already is, the universe conspires to create just that. 

I am manifesting a business where transparency and shared experiences are welcomed and utilized for the greater good of this business. Why does real estate have so many negative connotations? We’ve all heard the term “a ruthless business full of sharks” with references to “antiquated business models” where the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Sure, there are truths to bits of that in the right context, but why aren’t we, developers, real estate agents, and industry professionals, interested in co-creating a more meaningful business in all aspects real estate – whether it’s building homes, offering services, or cultivating communities, there’s so many positive attribute to this industry that aren’t always prioritized.

What is your superpower, Hana?

I like to think I have a few superpowers. (laughs) My greatest superpower: my intuition. I am very intuitive, I feel things beyond what I see with my eyes, or can think with my brain. I can be in a room full of people and drawn to exactly who I want or need to connect with and who I need to stay away from. I feel people’s energy and aura all over my body. I think it’s also a big part of why I’m good at sales because I can connect with people and intuitively figure out what they want and need. 

My second superpower, despite my intuition, I can be a chameleon to transform and adapt quickly, from one shape and form to another as I need to in order to work through certain physical situations. I work well under pressure and I’ve been known to stay calm during high-stress or emergency situations because I somehow change into the character that would best help solve the given situation.

What’s on your plate for the next three months that we can promote during the launch?

I am working on a couple of big deals right now that I can’t talk about quite yet because of NDAs but there’s a lot of movement in the market again with some exciting changes ahead.  

The most exciting thing to promote during the launch is The Assembly, my online program. It’s a great resource for real estate agents, especially right now with the recent changes in commission laws. It’s so important for agents to consider new opportunities to diversify their business model and revenue funnels – opportunities that many agents don’t know even exist.

This kind of curriculum, a formal practicum of new development marketing and sales, just doesn’t exist on the market today. It’s not a part of any real estate training, whether an introduction or continuing education course. When I had the initial idea of creating this program, I was shocked that I couldn’t find any of this information in any organized or consumable format for real estate professionals – it literally just doesn’t exist elsewhere.

New development is such a niche segment of real estate and there’s only a handful of professionals that are specialized in this field – and for the most part, it’s been kept a secret. Maybe it’s because of the fear of competition – but like everything else, there’s enough to go around. That’s the barrier I really want to break here – there’s so much real estate business to be had outside of the traditional avenues of selling homes, one house after another. There is no shortage of opportunities. Shared knowledge, experience, and collaboration amongst real estate professionals from all corners of this business is only going to enrich everyone’s expertise and benefit our clients. When more real estate agents are knowledgeable about new development marketing and sales needs and processes, it’s helpful for developers, too, because it gives them more value perspective and options of working with qualified real estate partners to represent their projects.

The Assembly is organized in 3 simple kits so agents can get the basics to get started or get real deep to become dangerous. And I also share my time with the agents that join the program through one-on-one sessions, connect them with my network of industry experts where needed, and I’m open about my experiences to provide additional guidance for each agent or team’s unique situation so I can practice what I’m preaching.

About Collective Marketplace, do you want to talk about how people can become partners?

I love meeting new partners that are interested in joining the Collective Marketplace. We do have a system in place – it’s not like anybody can be a partner. It really is a very vetted process within and through our collective shared network. There are tens of thousands of third-party service providers in this industry, it’s quite saturated. Whether you’re looking for a real estate photographer or an interior designer, there are hundreds of options – and finding the best one for you is a combination of budget and needs, and then narrowing the options down from there.

What inspired me to start the Collective Marketplace came from my own experience working with different clients on different projects, located in different parts of the country, all with their own unique wants, needs, goals, and budget. I’ve managed so many different request-for-proposal processes for clients, whether it was for interior design, creative branding, or video production, the list goes on. This process takes so much time for everyone involved – and I wanted to better streamline this review and selection process. This is my curated one-stop-shop of the best industry partners within their niche segment of this business – and we’ve done all the vetting for you through real working relationships, past engagements, and trusted references.

The partners of the Collective Marketplace aren’t just throwing around buzzwords and faking literacy, real estate is a business where there are measurable results associated with everything we all do – KPIs, ROIs, conversion rates, etc. there’s a means to measure the value you provide and the results that come with (or not) – and if your services aren’t tied to measurable results, then you should reconsider your position in this industry.

With the Collective Marketplace, we did all the heavy lifting to identify those measurable values and results. We’re still building out the platform and continuing to add additional partners, but our premise is based on greatness – professionals in this business that deliver great service, great product, and great results – results being the key factor here. 

For more information, visit TheHanaCollective.com

Follow @TheHanaCollective on Instagram.

Youtube @TheHanaCollective

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